The purest and truest spiritual life begins with accepting everything that comes to you as a gift and teaching…. The most difficult times sometimes bring the most important teachings. Each lesson is another step toward learning how to accept what comes to us as material to be transformed into the grace of spiritual life.
~Bradford Keeney, Everyday Soul~
Several months before my father died everything began to go wrong with his body. First one thing and then another. Even though, at that point in my life, I had spent some time as a chaplain intern for a large trauma center and had been around people as they were dying, I was too close to my own situation to be able to see what was actually happening. One evening a dear friend came by my apartment and, after listening to me for a little while, he said, Nancy, I’m afraid you’re using all your energy denying what’s really going on with your dad. His body is shutting down. He’s not going to be with us much longer. You’re going to exhaust yourself arguing with reality.
I was furious! I wanted to throw him out of my apartment. I wanted to rail against him and tell him he was wrong. Except…that I knew he was right. It was a wrenchingly painful moment for me and a significant one. Had I not trusted him and the genuine concern he had for me, I might not have been able to hear him. But because of his courage and his care, I gradually began accepting what was happening rather than resisting it. I couldn’t change the fact that my father was dying of cancer. But I could change who I was and how I responded in the midst of this unwelcome reality in the life of my family.
Accepting what is can be a challenge, especially when we don’t like what is happening. Whether it’s a dilemma at work or at home, a relationship difficulty, finances, or a health issue it is all too easy to allow our thoughts to spiral downward and our mantra to become everything is going wrong! And yet, even when that is the case and things are falling apart before our eyes, what else can we actually do but to deal with the problem as best we can and move on? Returning to a place of equilibrium and peace takes practice. It takes questioning our own perceptions and being willing to stop arguing with reality. But if we’re willing to accept what is, peace is only a thought away.
Think about a situation in your life that is causing you unhappiness, frustration or pain. For a little while today try accepting the situation completely, as it is.
Let go of your demands or your wishes that it be different.
Let go of any sense of struggle or striving.
Try to find something in the situation that has worth or meaning.
As you do this, observe what happens to your pain.
Sometimes when we stop trying so hard to change things, things change all by themselves.
Director of Bereavement and Volunteer Services